Make It East to Get From Here to There
It took a lot of time, effort and money to get those site visitors to your home or landing page so the last thing you want to do is lose them. You want to keep them on site long enough to perform the most desired action or MDA.
Site visitors are usually looking for something – information, a specific product, an eBook download or a sign-up module for a weekly newsletter. They want something and it’s up to you and your web site designer to make sure they find what they’re looking for – and FAST. The last thing you want is site visitors searching for the right item or the right information, the right web page that tells them what they want to know.
So, if you have an on-line clothing store, you divide your products: men’s clothing, women’s clothing, children’s clothing, summer specials, today’s sale item – all of these simplify the visitors search, making your web site’s content more accessible.
That’s one of the keys to web success – accessibility of content – providing a clear path to the exact information a site visitor is looking for. So, if they click on a tab on the navigation bar labeled ABOUT US and see all of your business’ contact information, they’ll be confused (and some will be annoyed because now they have to go looking for the bios of the company principals).
Or, they click on the CONTACT US page and find those bios they thought they’d find through the ABOUT US link. A confused web site visitor is a gone web site visitor. If they have to hunt down whatever it is they’re looking for, they move on to another site.
And you lose the sale or sign-up.
So, how do you keep it simple – and why?
Why Is Content Accessibility Important to Web Site Design?
Because it gradually pulls visitors deeper into the site. And the deeper the visitor goes in to your site the better. In fact, “number of page views” is a key metric that search engine optimizers (SEOs) consider.
Accessibility also makes it simpler for the site visitor to perform the MDA – like buy something. If your clothing store site mixes men’s and women’s clothing on the same pages, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for dad to find those madras shorts he wants to buy. Visitors have to view every product before finding what they’re is looking for.
So, keeping site content at the fingertips of the site visitor will increase the number of times the MDA takes place. It’s as simple as that: the easier it is to perform the MDA, the more times the MDA will be performed.
These are the links that take visitors to other pages of your web site. Navigation sometimes appears as a series of links (tabs) on a navigation bar or, for more complex navigation, links might appear in a column on the right or left side of the home page.
The words and terms you use to label these navigation tabs should be:
- always available
- always in the same location on every web site page
By unambiguous and simple, we’re talking about clear. If the tab says FINANCIAL SERVICES that could include anything from creating a trust to buying rental property in Spain. Instead, use a drop down or fly-out menu to help the visitors with their searches of your site.
Under FINANCIAL SERVICES, a drop down menu that lists:
- Debt Reduction
- Tax Remediation
- Investment Opportunities
- Trust Creation
- Philanthropic Donations
…will take the visitor to the exact information s/he is looking for. Why? Because you’ve created a straight line pathway to that information.
Navigation tab descriptions should always be truthful. If one of your tabs says TODAY’S SPECIALS and the visitor sees the same products at the same prices found on other pages, you’ve lost credibility and, frankly, that visitor is going to feel as though you’re wasting their time.
Navigation tabs to all pages should always be available so the visitor can return to the home page with a click. If the visitor goes down a path and is unable to get back to a previous page (except by clicking the back button on their browsers) they’ll bounce. The fact is, many W3 browsers don’t even know they have a back button. Heck, most don’t know what a browser is!
Finally, always keep you navigation in the same location on every page of the site. If you’re using a navigation bar at the top of the page (the norm) keep that navigation bar in the same place on all pages of the web site. This simplifies the search of the visitor who knows how to move about the site.
If the web site is designed for an industry-specific demographic, it’s safe to assume some knowledge on the part of the site visitor. For example, it’s safe to assume that building contractors know what SIPs are structured insulated panels that hang on house frames to create the house’s skin.
However, if the site is designed for the do-it-yourself, weekend warrior, you’ll have to explain or define what an SIP is and how you buy them, use them, install them and so on. You can’t always assume that site visitors know insider jargon so keep it to a minimum to make the content (the information) more accessible to a larger demographic.
Throw out the thesaurus and keep the text simple. Americans read at an 8th grade level so don’t try to impress the visitor with your massive vocabulary. Keep it short, on point and simple, simple, simple.
Toss the hype. “The best,” “the most unique,” “state-of-the-art” – all of this sell text is a waste of the visitor’s time. Instead, provide good, solid, tried-and-true information that explains why the visitor wants to do business with you. Not everything can be the best. But, by providing good, unbiased information, you demonstrate your value as a service provider or purveyor of goods. Help, not hype.
Use bold headlines and sub-heads to direct visitors to specific information. This prevents visitors from having to plow through reams of writing to find the one nugget of information or the one product they were looking for.
Finally, lay out the text in small blocks. Use “negative space” to break up large blocks of text. Web readers tend to scan so keep your text short. Use bullet lists to detail a long list of points.
Use charts and graphs to deliver a great deal of information in an easily-accessible format. A simple pie chart can, at a glance, deliver the same information that an entire page of text delivers. Charts and graphs are not only useful tools for delivering complex or detailed content, they break up all that text with something that catches the eye.
Remember your objective for the site – to sell a product or service, to entice a prospect to pick up the phone and call you, or to opt in for your weekly newsletter. Focus on the MDA, then lead site visitors through navigation and content accessibility to the exact information they’re looking for.
Web site accessibility, using clear, unambiguous navigation, and content accessibility using headlines, sub-heads, bullet points, charts and graphs, will boost your conversion rate and keep visitors coming back…
…now that they know their way around.